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Gainesville defense bricks North Hall, 27-0

Sims passes for two TDs, runs for two Gainesville turns rivalry to rout

POSTED: September 24, 2008 5:01 a.m.
SCOTT ROGERS/The Times

Gainesville's A.J. Johnson brings down North Hall's Graham Duncan after a reception in the first half of Friday's game at The Brickyard.

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Gainesville High football coach Bruce Miller promised Friday's North Hall-Gainesville would be a neck-and-neck contest or maybe a coin-flip.

That prediction turned out to be the furthest thing from the truth.

The eighth-ranked Red Elephants (4-0) turned this annual rivalry game into a one-sided highlight reel with a 27-0 victory over the Trojans (1-2) for their second consecutive win at The Brickyard.

Gainesville put it all together with great defense, a solid running game and electrifying play from junior quarterback Blake Sims in his first outing against North Hall.

Now it appears that the Red Elephants may have a monopoly on The Brickyard. North Hall was undefeated at home in the regular season since its loss to Gainesville during the 2006 season.

"This is an amazing feeling to win here against North Hall," Gainesville senior defensive lineman Josh Jackson said.

"Any time you can come up here and win on their turf is a great win," Miller said.

Gainesville's defense was one of the keys to victory against North Hall. Gainesville limited the Trojans to only 125 yards on the ground and 243 yards of total offense. Xavier Ervin and Robert Humphrey each had an interception for Gainesville's defense.

"Our defense came into the game with the mentality that the final score would be whatever to zero," Jackson added.

"Our defense was just lights out tonight," Miller said.
Gainesville's defense held North Hall scoreless despite four trips inside the Red Elephants' 20-yard line. This was the first time North Hall was shut out since the 2001 season.

"Our offense has a responsibility to put points on the board," North Hall coach Bob Christmas said. "The defense can only do so much, eventually we have got to score."

Gainesville's offense was almost as good as its defense. Red Elephants fans already new what their first-year quarterback could do when the offense was in sync. Friday night, they saw what he could do when a play completely fell apart.

Sims scored two rushing touchdowns (43 and 15 yards) on plays he was forced to improvise with his feet. He finished the game 20 of 28 passing for 209 yards and compiled 300 yards of total offense.

"He (Sims) is a difference-maker," Christmas said. "He's about as good as I've seen."

Sims spread his passes around with Juwon Jeffries, Nick Johnson, Tyson Smith, T.J. Jones, Teryan Rucker, Darius Tanner, D.J. Allen and Devon Pierce all catching passes for the Red Elephants.

"A lot of people think that we're just a two-player team," Sims said. "But we've got a lot of great players."

Rucker also finished with a big game for the Red Elephants. He turned a short pass into a 45 yard gain in the fourth quarter and finished the game with 179 yards of total offense (116 rushing, 63 receiving). Pierce (69 rushing yards) and Jones (65 receiving yards) also made an impact for Gainesville's offense.

"We played good in all three phases of the game tonight," Miller said. "But if our offense can start hitting on all cylinders ... wow!"

Miller noted before the season started that if his team started 4-0, it would be for real. So is Gainesville for real now?

"Well it feels good to win the first four," Miller said. "But now the question is where to we take it from here, because we've still got a long way to go."

North Hall's best efforts came on the defensive side of the ball. Thomas Sprague's 17 tackles (13 solo, four assists) and Nathan Jones' 11 tackles (seven solo, four assisted) led the Trojans. Graham Duncan led the Trojans running game with 10 carries for 56 yards.

Gainesville plays host to West Hall at 7:30 p.m. next Friday at Bobby Gruhn Field. North Hall plays host to Creekview at 7:30 p.m. next Friday at The Brickyard. 



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